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Story Review: Roselily by Alice Walker

Roselily by Alice WalkerROSELILY is the perfect example of why I have become a fan of short stories. It takes certain skill to weave an engaging tale in no less than 3 pages, without sacrificing character depth, meaningful plot, and arresting prose. With short stories like this, I can certainly say that length is not a measure of a writer’s talent and skill.

She dreams; dragging herself across the world. A small girl in her mother’s white robe and veil, knee raised waist high through a bowl of quicksand soup.

Roselily is getting married. To a black man. On the porch of her house. She has 4 children, the last one given away to its father who had money. A lot of things are running through her mind while the preacher drones on with his litany of the marriage ceremony. She thinks of her dead mother. She worries about her last child in New England. She wonders about her new husband and his different religion. She is excited about the prospect of living in a new city.

But she is also uneasy about her new life. Will she be able to take on her new responsibilities? Will she be able to make new roots? What about her children?

This is the first time I have read something by Alice Walker. I had meant to read her more popular full-length work, The Color Purple, but I got distracted with other books. I’m glad I had the chance to read this short story, though, because it gave me a taste of how her writing feels like. There is something to say about the prose. It is crisp and short, but the narrative is packed with a lot of meaning in terms of women empowerment and cultural differences, motherhood and romance. I loved how the paragraphs are interspersed with the lines of the opening litany of a Christian wedding ceremony. This creative prose has made the story stand out in my eyes.

Reading Roselily made me think about my own wedding. Did I think the same thoughts as that of Roselily? I can’t be sure. But I certainly did when I said yes to the wedding proposal. I knew that tying the knot is no laughing matter and that once I say yes, there’s no turning back. It took more than guts to leave my carefree life and slip into a domesticated one. More so that I knew I would be thinking about other people – the husband and the kids – over my own interests. Will I be willing to make that sacrifice? The thing with Roselily, however, was she was already burdened with her job and her kids that she sees marriage as a way out.

She also has her own reservations, certainly. And that is only normal, because getting married is indeed a leap of faith. A big leap of faith, if I may say so. Others would call getting hitched as throwing caution to the wind and just riding with the tide, no matter how high it is. There is a need for extra courage to make that decision and all the more so when you marry someone of a different faith. And of course, there is the question of whether she really loves her husband. Or, is love already enough to marry someone?

Her husband would free her. A romantic hush. Proposal. Promises. A new life! Respectable, reclaimed, renewed. Free! In robe and veil.

I guess Roselily is ready.

My rating: 5/5 stars.


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